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Rein Skullerud

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Images Tell the Story of Hunger and Hope in Niger

Posted: 06/29/2012 11:35 am

As you can imagine, my work as the photo editor for the largest humanitarian organization fighting hunger has sent me all over the world to some incredible, but also challenging, places. I've been on the frontlines of hunger; I've seen communities picking up pieces in the wake of disaster or building resiliency to face the next crisis.

After my recent trip to Niger, however, I was so struck by the state of the land and the spirit of the people I met that I wanted to do something I've never done before: tell you about the photos I took. People in Niger are suffering through the third drought to hit the region in recent years. It's what we in the development community call recurrent drought, but for the people I met it means this: last year's harvest never came. Farmers' herds are dying, jobs are scarce, and families can't afford the increasingly expensive food on the market. This is a hunger crisis.

This year, WFP plans to reach 3.8 million people in Niger with food and cash assistance. But we can't do it alone.

Traditional photo essays covering drought often show emaciated children and crying babies. I wanted to share with you instead a story of hope. I wanted to tell you about how we can help people get through this drought and get stronger to face the next one.

This is the bigger picture of hunger in Niger. It's more than a drought, more than immense numbers of need, more than a crisis: it's about people. You'll see in these photos women growing more nutritious food, small-scale farmers learning how to get more out of their soil, and children getting the right nutrition to grow up healthy and strong. We can't talk about crisis without pulling resiliency into the frame. This is what the future of Niger could look like if we all do a little bit now.

Each time I go on assignment for WFP, I leave a place with a new heartbreaking story of hunger I can't shake. There is always, however, a corollary story of hope: the incredibly strong people I meet building a way out of hunger for their communities. I see an opportunity for all of us to make a difference; if enough of us tell the story of hunger we can transform hungry communities into empowered communities -- and a region in crisis into a region of strength.


This video is just a taste of how we're helping the hungry people in the Sahel. For the full scope of what we're doing in the region, please visit our Sahel crisis homepage.

 
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